Senate Democrats are pushing back against attempts to pass a compromise bill in the lame-duck session that could speed the introduction of driverless cars onto U.S. roadways, saying it lacks safeguards that would protect drivers.
“Many provisions still do not go far enough to protect American consumers,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), said of the American Vision for Safer Transportation through Advancement of Revolutionary Technologies Act, or AV START.
“We can do better,” said Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.).
The fight over the bill pits some automakers, which have argued that less regulation will speed the advent of autonomous vehicles, against safety advocates and states that say Washington should exert a firm hand in regulating the budding industry.
The automakers’ argument: The sooner fully autonomous vehicles reach the road, the sooner the 40,000 annual traffic deaths on U.S. roads will decline. But some states and consumer advocates demur, saying that if the federal government does not step in to regulate, states will need to — potentially leading to a patchwork of rules across the country.
Rush hour in Singapore, a crowded island city of nearly 6 million people, is much like rush hour in almost every major city in the world: a living hell of clogged highways and stressed-out drivers. The dilemma, if left alone, will only get worse if, as is expected, Singapore adds a million more residents in the next decade. But city planners have no intention of leaving it alone. They have in mind a solution that is radical and all-encompassing: to replace car ownership with ride-sharing.
The current management of transportation in American cities is, to put it mildly, balkanized. Powers to regulate, tax, and allocate budgets for modes like transit, automobiles, and taxis are divided across numerous transit authorities, state agencies, and city departments. The predictable result: organizational friction and confusion about who is ultimately responsible for achieving policy goals such as equity, safety, and the reduction of pollution and congestion.
This situation is not sustainable, especially in an era when new mobility services like ride-hail and scooters have made the pursuit of regional mobility goals more challenging—and more important—than ever before. It’s time to consider a dramatic step: consolidation of all mobility oversight into a single regional authority.